Thank you, Mr Speaker.
We live in the best country in the world.
But for millions of Australians, things aren’t easy right now.
You’re facing increasing financial pressures:
In your mortgage repayments, insurance premiums, visits to the supermarket, filling-up at the petrol station, and especially in your power bills.
Cost-of-living is skyrocketing.
And it may seem out of control.
Yet it can be kept in check.
But not while this Labor Government makes bad economic decisions.
Labor’s Budget was a missed opportunity to help you at a time when you need help.
It didn’t address our economic challenges or inspire confidence.
It’s a Budget which breaks promises, rather than keeps them…
A Budget which weakens Australia’s financial position, rather than strengthens it…
And a Budget which adds to, rather than alleviates your cost-of-living pressures.
Peter and Lee are pensioners from Bankstown in New South Wales.
They’ve been with the same energy company for more than 30 years.
Their bill is set to rise by $753 dollars in just 12 months.
Kel runs a multi-generational family-owned IGA supermarket in Mapleton, Queensland.
He negotiated a Commercial and Industrial energy contract when the Coalition was in Government and power prices were much lower than they are now.
Today, Kel’s business is threatened as he faces an increase of $160,000 dollars on the power bill from last year.
Peter, Lee and Kel’s energy costs will go up further.
Under Labor’s Budget, electricity prices are set to rise by more than 56 per cent and gas prices by more than 44 per cent.
We all know these are difficult times.
Nations around the world are contending with economic challenges born from the pandemic and amplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But thanks to the Coalition Government’s record, the fundamentals of the Australian economy are strong.
Costs-of-living are going up partly due to global conditions.
But also due to this Labor Government’s bad decisions.
The Treasurer said his Budget ‘makes hard decisions for hard times’.
But I say his Budget makes bad decisions – making hard times even harder for all Australians…
Whether you’re young, raising a family, or retired…
Whether you’re an employee or running a business.
On Tuesday, the Treasurer failed to mention in his speech what Labor’s Budget papers revealed.
‘Everything is going up, except your wages.’
Cost-of-living, power prices, taxes, interest rates, unemployment, and the deficit are going up, or will be going up under the Government’s predictions.
The same Budget papers confirmed that real wages are forecast to go down.
This means that, by Christmas, a typical family will be $2,000 dollars worse off under this Budget.
And you have every right to be anxious and disappointed.
The Prime Minister has broken faith with you.
RESPONSE TO BUDGET MEASURES
The job of an Opposition is not to oppose for the sake of it.
We don’t disagree with everything in the Budget.
Policy must be judged on its merits.
If it’s good for you, we will support it.
If it’s bad for you, we will stand against it.
So we commend several good measures in Tuesday’s Budget:
The extension of the childcare subsidy to more Australian families…
The commitment to reduce the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Co-Payment to lower the costs of medicines…
The support for housing for our Veterans…
The initiatives to combat domestic violence…
And the funding to help Australians recover from devasting floods.
Tonight, I will tell you about some of the Coalition’s priorities.
And I will also highlight where the Budget is failing you:
In energy, tax relief, housing, filling job shortages, industrial relations, and infrastructure in our regions.
Labor’s Budget makes life more difficult for millions of Australians.
And it shows – yet again – that Labor can’t manage the economy when it forms Government.
THE COALITION’S ECONOMIC RECORD
There’s a historical pattern of Labor creating a mess and the Coalition cleaning it up.
Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello inherited a damaged economy from Paul Keating’s Labor Government of high interest rates and unemployment.
They turned the economy around, showed financial restraint, introduced reforms like the GST, and left our nation with a Future Fund.
In 2013, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey inherited a broken economy from Labor’s Rudd-Gillard-Rudd tenure.
They commenced Budget repair and prepared for a rainy day.
And this work was continued by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison.
By 2019, the Coalition brought the Budget back into balance for the first time in eleven years.
Then, in 2020, COVID-19 hit.
That once-in-a-generation pandemic caused the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
It was only due to our economic management over the seven years prior to the pandemic that we were in a strong position to implement a suite of support measures.
With 2020 hindsight, we didn’t get everything right.
And some of the state government lockdowns went on for far too long.
Australians are still bearing the wounds of those lockdowns today.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s policies kept our nation afloat.
JobKeeper assisted 1 million businesses and kept 4 million Australians in jobs.
Our cash flow boost helped 820,000 businesses.
On almost every economic and health measure, Australia was either world-leading or performed better than most countries.
The Final Budget Outcome for 2021-22 revealed a $48 billion dollar reduction in the deficit…
And a $115 billion dollar reduction in debt compared to the Budget handed down in March.
In just one year – 2020-21 to 21-22 – the Budget improved by over $100 billion dollars – the largest turn-around since Federation.
There are now 596,000 more Australians in jobs than prior to the pandemic.
Other economies fared much worse than ours.
This Labor Government talks down our economy, but could not name a single country whose position they would rather be in.
They’re vocal in criticising our pandemic response.
But they remain silent on the fact their own measures would have cost taxpayers an extra $81 billion dollars, including further extending JobKeeper and paying people to get vaccinated.
As for Labor’s claim about ‘$1 trillion dollars of debt’, even the ABC’s Fact Check didn’t support the claim.
Every democratic government around the world, left or right leaning, incurred COVID debt.
Yet Australia emerged from the pandemic in an economic position the envy of most nations with debt lower than any other major advanced economy.
So, when you hear Labor’s spin, when you hear them carry-on about a ‘wasted decade’, it’s a distraction from the fact that this Government has no economic plan.
And Labor will continue to misrepresent the truth until the next election to mask their own bad decisions.
Most notably, their bad decisions on energy policy.
ENERGY COSTS AND SECURITY
Under the previous Labor Government, power prices rose on average by 12.9 per cent per year.
Over nine years of Coalition Government, they rose on average by 0.3 per cent per year.
Six months ago, the Australian public heard the Prime Minister very clearly.
He said he had a plan to help with your cost-of-living pressures, especially your electricity bills.
On 97 occasions he promised your bill would go down by $275 dollars.
In this Budget, instead of going down by $275 as promised, Labor’s plan will see your electricity bill go up by more than 56 per cent over the next two years.
Not only that, your gas bill will go up by more than 44 per cent.
Pensioners can’t afford that level of increase.
Not just pensioners, but self-funded retirees, families and small businesses too. In fact, most Australians.
In Europe, we’re hearing about people – particularly pensioners and low-income earners – having to choose between paying their power bills or putting food on the table.
Between “heating or eating” this winter.
There, electricity and gas bills are spiralling out of control.
Countries are rationing power.
Not only because of the invasion of Ukraine…
But because governments in several countries in recent years have made catastrophic energy decisions.
They have turned off the secure supply of electricity and gas before the technology and system are ready for more renewable energy.
Despite those warnings and lessons, this Labor Government is following in the footsteps of those countries.
Investing in renewable energy, reducing emissions and doing so credibly to protect our environment is crucial.
Indeed, we want a sustainable and sensible pathway to reduce our emissions.
But when the Prime Minister says that the sun and wind are free energy sources, your power bill tells a different story.
It’s much more complicated than what the Prime Minister says.
The technology doesn’t yet exist at the scale that is needed to store renewable energy for electricity to be reliable at night, or during peak periods.
That is just the scientific reality.
‘Firming-up’ means using coal, gas, hydro, hydrogen, nuclear or batteries as an energy source or to store power when renewables aren’t feeding the system.
But Labor is going to phase out coal and gas before the new technology has been developed and rolled out.
The Energy Minister calls gas pipeline projects ‘BS’.
Indeed, in this Budget, the Government makes it harder for more gas supply at a time when we need it most.
On Tuesday night, we saw the Government rip-up funding for gas exploration and cancel gas infrastructure projects which would eliminate shortfalls and make your bills cheaper.
They handed over funding to environmental activists who want to overturn gas project approvals.
Higher gas prices will be baked-in for the foreseeable future, putting high-paying jobs in regional communities at risk.
Competitively-priced hydrogen is about a decade away.
And the best batteries in the world today – like the Victorian Big Battery – provide only 30 minutes of power at full discharge.
Labor’s push for 82 per cent renewables by 2030 comes without a plan to ensure reliable baseload power.
Its policy will see hundreds-of-billions-of-dollars spent on rolling-out poles and high transmission wires in towns and suburbs.
Labor is misleading Australians when it says it can roll-out billions of dollars’ worth of transmission wires, cables and towers for renewable energy in the next few years.
Regional communities and farms will be carpeted with up to 28,000 kilometres of new high voltage transmission lines.
That’s almost the entire coastline of mainland Australia…
Or the distance of travelling from Melbourne to Perth and back four times.
Every dollar spent on new transmission lines will be paid for by consumers through higher electricity bills…
Bills your Prime Minister promised would go down by $275 dollars.
The Energy Minister himself outlined the reckless rush to renewables.
He acknowledged that to reach Labor’s legislated 43 per cent 2030 emissions target, forty wind turbines must be built every month…
And 22,000 solar panels installed every day for the next eight years.
And these costs will considerably ramp-up your power bills over coming years.
So the 56 per cent hike in your electricity bill under Labor is just the beginning.
As the Australian Workers’ Union noted, struggling manufacturers will be forced to move their operations offshore.
Should that occur, there will be no net benefit to the global environment…
Only a net loss of Australian jobs, income and sovereign capabilities.
Meanwhile, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US are all investing in next generation, zero-emission nuclear Small Modular Reactors.
They are doing this to shore-up energy security and to meet their zero emissions targets.
The UK plans to triple the size of its nuclear generation by 2050.
The imperative to create affordable, reliable, and emissions-free energy is why the Coalition is seeking an intelligent conversation on the role these new-age nuclear technologies could play in the energy mix.
Your cost-of-living relief is interconnected with tax relief.
To help you and your families to plan and get ahead, the Coalition believes in a core principle:
That you should keep more of what you earn.
Hard working Australians should be rewarded.
The best reward for hard work is lower taxes.
Due to our tax relief in government, a person earning $90,000 dollars paid $3,000 dollars less tax than they did under Labor, each and every year.
Stage 3 of our legislated plan will lower tax for more than 10 million Australians.
It will simplify our tax system, abolishing the 37 per cent tax rate entirely and reducing the 32.5 per cent tax rate to 30 per cent.
It means those earning between $45,000 dollars and $200,000 dollars will pay no more than 30 cents in the dollar.
For a hairdresser earning $60,000 dollars a year, it means $400 dollars more in your pocket.
For an executive assistant earning $80,000 dollars a year, it means $900 dollars more in your pocket.
For a qualified diesel mechanic earning $100,000 dollars a year, it means $1,370 dollars more in your pocket.
For 95 per cent of workers, it means a top rate of no more than 30 cents in the dollar.
Our plan means that the top 5 per cent of income earners will pay 33 per cent of all income tax.
For millions of Australians, you can work hard, take an extra shift, or get a pay rise or promotion, without suddenly being pushed into a higher tax bracket.
Our legislated tax plan future-proofs your income.
When your income rises over time, you won’t be pushed into higher brackets or be hit by tax increases by stealth.
Stage 3 tax relief comes into effect in July 2024.
As economists point out, after interest rate rises, that’s when our economy will need it.
That’s when Australians especially deserve it.
Labor took our tax plan to the election.
They promised unequivocally not to reverse it.
But now they are laying the groundwork to break this promise.
This Budget provides no certainty for 10 million Australians expecting tax relief in 2024.
The Budget is intended to soften-up Australians.
It gives the Government time to come up with excuses by May next year to tax you more.
Indeed, under Labor, the tax paid will increase by $142 billion dollars over the next four years.
Labor can’t manage money.
Which means they want more of yours.
The Coalition will continue to fight for your tax relief because it’s your money, not theirs.
Normally, family members are present to watch a Budget Reply speech.
But my boys are at home with their mum, who is ensuring they’re studying for their exams and not watching TV.
But I wanted to mention my parents.
My Dad, Bruce, started out as a small businessman – as a bricklayer.
My Mum, Ailsa, was a secretary.
By the time five kids came along – of which I’m the eldest – Mum was at home raising us and doing the books for Dad.
But she also took in local kids as a day care Mum.
My parents had a strong work ethic.
They taught us to appreciate the value of money.
We were raised with a lot of love and support, but not much money.
We lived in what is still a working-class suburb.
It was a time when Labor was presiding over high interest rates and unemployment.
And it was a terrible time for the building industry.
I was encouraged to get a part-time job.
From Grade 7 until I started university, I worked in a local butcher shop – after school and on Saturday mornings.
Scrubbing floors, washing up, and serving on the counter was tough work.
But it gave me an appreciation for many different perspectives.
I saved like crazy.
One of my proudest achievements was buying my first home at 19-years-old.
It was nothing flash at $90,000 dollars.
But it was mine.
Today, it’s much harder for young people to afford their first house – even with hard work, sacrifice and saving.
Tonight, I recommit the Coalition to assisting first home buyers by accessing their superannuation through the Super Home Buyer Scheme.
Currently, a super fund can be used to buy a residential or commercial rental property…
To buy shares or even livestock.
In fact, it can be used to buy almost any asset class except a home to live in.
Taking money out of super before retirement is a bad investment decision, unless you put the money back in before retirement.
A 30-year-old couple withdraws $50,000 dollars each from super to help buy a home.
Over a decade, the $100,000 dollars would be worth about $188,000 dollars if it had remained in super.
Without the $100,000 dollars from super, the first home buyer wouldn’t have been able to afford the house.
But with the access to super, they have a home to live in.
If the house was sold after that decade, the $100,000 would be worth around $214,000.
And if the $214,000 was reinvested back into super – as we would require – the couple would end up with a balance from that amount in their super when they retire with over $1 million dollars.
Under a Coalition Government, we will extend the same opportunity to women who separate later in life; women with very few housing options and those who are increasingly left homeless.
Your super is your money.
This Government thinks it’s their money – something we have seen in this Budget.
They want your super to invest in someone else’s home – not your own.
At the same time, they want super funds to be less transparent with what they do with your money.
The Coalition has a strong record when it comes to getting first home buyers and single parent families into their own home.
We support initiatives to increase the supply of housing.
But the Government’s initiative has no detail.
The Labor Government has promised one million additional homes in five years costing $10 billion dollars.
It isn’t realistic.
It’s Kevin Rudd-esque in design.
Remember the pink batts?
Remember the school halls?
They were designed when this Treasurer was the Chief of Staff to the then Treasurer, Wayne Swan.
The programs were a disaster.
Sadly, this proposal looks like it falls into the same category.
The design features will end up wasting billions of dollars and deliver little, if anything, to home buyers.
JOBS ENCOURAGING PENSIONERS AND VETERANS
Another feature of this Budget not in the Treasurer’s speech was Labor has no plan to save a predicted 140,000 Australian job losses.
But it plans to employ another 20,000 public servants in Canberra.
Across the economy, employers are crying out for workers.
In June, the Coalition announced our policy to double the Age and Veteran Service Pension Work Bonus Scheme from $300 to $600 dollars per fortnight – or to $1,200 dollars for couples.
It’s a policy to allow older Australians and veterans to work more, if they choose to do so, without losing their pension payment.
It not only fills job vacancies, but helps older Australians and veterans to supplement their fixed incomes and to deal with Labor’s 56 per cent increase in electricity prices…
Those bills the Prime Minister swore to you would go down by $275.
Labor’s policy is about 25 per cent less than the Coalition’s proposal.
Right now, more incentive is required to get people to work – not less – and to mobilise a ready workforce.
Instead, Labor’s changes to multi-employer bargaining threaten to undermine productivity and will be a throwback to the 1980s.
Labor’s changes will impose industry-wide, ‘one size fits all’ conditions which empower unions.
Where union ultimatums are not met, however unreasonable, multiple sectors will be able to engage in crippling economy-wide strikes, where parties unaffected by disputes join in on protests.
Even Paul Keating has criticised the plan.
The last time that unions used industry-wide strikes to pursue sector wide ultimatums was in 1982.
In that year, unemployment reached 9.4 per cent, inflation 12.4 per cent and 2 million working days were lost to industrial disputes.
SUPPORTING WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE NDIS
We are all here in Parliament to improve the lives of Australians, especially children.
We are all influenced by our experiences in life.
As a police officer, I saw the best and worst society has to offer.
I attended countless domestic violence incidents.
There is nothing worse than hearing calls for help from women or children as you hop out of a police car and run towards a house.
I am proud of the record-funding both sides of politics have provided to services supporting these families.
The Coalition will invest significantly in these family support services.
And also to protect women and children from sexual assault.
I worked in the Sex Offenders Squad.
What has stayed with me – even to this day – is the horrific details of victims’ statements and ensuing investigations.
As Minister for Home Affairs in charge of the Australian Federal Police, I led the cause.
I provided $70 million dollars to establish the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.
It’s now internationally recognised and works with global partners to protect our children on-line and off.
It’s estimated to have so far saved more than 500 children.
I acknowledge Bruce and Denise Morcombe – it is Day for Daniel tomorrow – along with Sonya Ryan and others – who have inspired us as parents to fight back against those who seek to hurt our children.
They work hand in glove with the police to prevent children being harmed.
I’m honoured to have worked so closely with them for many years.
Prime Ministers require a strength of leadership to make tough decisions to keep our people and country safe.
My record in the area of child protection and the safety of women will be enduring priorities of a government I lead.
The Coalition has always been a strong supporter of choice.
And that’s why we supported increased access to childcare for working families.
We nearly doubled childcare investment.
Women’s workforce participation reached record highs…
Women were earning more than ever before…
Women’s unemployment was at its lowest levels since 1974.
And this is a record we are proud of.
But we know we can do much more.
We will also work with the Government to combat the scourge of domestic violence in Australia.
Ending violence against women and children within a generation is an ambitious goal.
But one our nation should and must strive for.
As is continuing to support those with disability.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is an important initiative for the most vulnerable in our society.
The Coalition has supported it since its inception.
We cannot allow, however, for this important program to become unsustainable.
To do so would deprive those in most need of care.
The Coalition is prepared to support sensible government proposals to strengthen the NDIS and ensure its sustainability.
This provides structured reform of the Budget and certainty to people with disabilities and their families.
BORDER SECURITY AND IMMIGRATION
We celebrate our migrant story, and it is a key strength of our economy.
As the Minister for Border Protection, I made tough decisions to keep our borders secure.
But I also brought in record numbers of people from India, China and many other countries.
I instructed my department to undertake an operation to resettle Yazidi women.
More than 4,000 Yazidis now call Australia home.
And we’re proud to call them Australians.
Not all Australians will know the plight of the Yazidis.
These women were persecuted.
Many lost their lives at the hands of Islamic State.
I’m incredibly proud that members of the Yazidi community are in the gallery tonight.
Many of their scars will never heal.
The sense of loss of their loved ones will remain with them forever.
But they will be able to tell their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that Australia offered them a home.
They took it.
They started a new life.
And they are a wonderful part of our country.
Earlier rounds of the program supported the safety of our multicultural communities.
For example, to provide security cameras at places of worship and programs to help youth at risk.
A Coalition Government I lead will restore that funding.
As a nation, we celebrate our wonderful Indigenous history.
But we need to be equally proud of our British heritage and our migrant story.
Many parents from across the country are increasingly concerned about the education their children are receiving at school.
Despite great teachers and record funding going into schools – government and non-government – our nation’s literacy and numeracy levels are falling short.
In our school curriculum, it’s important to include studies of the environment and other social policies.
But the system has allowed ideologically driven advocates too much influence over what is taught to our children.
Teaching a sanitised and selective version of history and the arts – and radical gender theory – is not in our children’s best interests.
What is needed is a focus on making the basics a priority – reading, writing and maths…
Fostering a love of our country and pride in our history and democracy, without sugar coating the past…
Where the teachers lead the instruction and are supported to have orderly classrooms…
Where students learn respect, discipline, and ‘how to think’ not ‘what to think’.
A Coalition government pledges to work with families to reflect their values and perspectives in our schools.
So much of our lives are already online, be it through internet banking or sharing personal messages, videos and photos.
While children and the elderly are most vulnerable, none of us are immune.
A Coalition Government I lead will do more to help families deal with the threats online.
Our laws need to be tightened and social media companies held to account for what happens on their platforms.
It needs to be a safe environment.
We expect no less online than what we do in real life.
Our threats aren’t only online.
Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a devastating reminder that we shouldn’t take for granted the 80 years of relative peace since the end of the Second World War.
As Defence Minister, I provided more than $285 million dollars in support to President Zelenskyy and the people of Ukraine.
It’s a signal of our values and sends a statement to the world.
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with this Government in providing even more support…
Including the announcement today of 30 additional Bushmasters and the deployment of up to 70 ADF personnel to help train Ukrainian reservists.
The threat of conflict in our own region is real.
As many military leaders have warned, we have to be realistic about the increasing prospect of that conflict.
The AUKUS deal negotiated by Prime Minister Morrison and I will give our country the best chance of peace.
It provides deterrence.
Not just through the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.
But through collaboration with our two most important allies in the areas of artificial intelligence, space, cyber, hypersonics, and the interoperability of our respective forces.
With threats in the region, Labor and the Coalition must be on a unity ticket.
Australia must not only be a credible defence partner in the region, but also ensure our men and women in uniform have the capabilities they need to credibly deter aggression.
Can I take this opportunity to thank members of the Australian Defence Force…
Along with first responders, local councillors, community leaders, volunteers, and parliamentarians…
For their efforts in supporting Australians and communities affected by the recent floods.
In Government we invested a record amount in our veterans.
I thank the Government for continuing that investment.
The number of veteran suicides in our country remains far too high.
It’s a national tragedy.
The Coalition strongly supports the Government’s commitment to expand the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme.
One moment as Defence Minister I will never forget was attending the funeral of Private Tom Halloran.
Tom was 21-years-old – an incredible young man with everything ahead of him and a proud digger.
He took his own life on the 26th of April this year.
Entering the chapel, Kirilly and I spoke with Tom’s parents – John and Robyn – and their daughter Annie – Tom’s sister.
They put on a brave face but were understandably crushed and looking for answers.
On Tuesday this week, John gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
He wants a better system of support for our diggers.
We all do.
I have raised some suggestions the family have made with the Minister for Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force.
And we will work with the Government to do whatever is required to turn this situation around.
INFRASTRUCTURE, THE REGIONS AND FARMERS
Infrastructure investment drives economic growth, creates jobs, encourages investment, boosts productivity, busts congestion, and supports resilient supply chains.
That’s why the Coalition committed record funding of $120 billion dollars for infrastructure over the next 10 years.
In contrast, this Labor Government’s first Budget axed $2.8 billion dollars of infrastructure projects and delayed a further $6.5 billion dollars’ worth of projects.
It’s essentially an end for projects like the Rockhampton Ring Road – something which the current Prime Minister promised in 2019.
Labor has cancelled and delayed over $5 billion dollars of investment in water infrastructure, including dams like Hells Gates, Dungowan, Urannah, and Wyangala.
This Government has slashed $10 billion dollars from regional Australia.
In so doing, it’s put the interests of Premier Dan Andrews and Labor’s commitment of $2.2 billion dollars for the Suburban Rail Loop ahead of the one-in-three Australians who live outside of capital cities…
Those Australians who generate much of the wealth that benefits our country.
Speaking of regional Australia, farmers have been left in the lurch with this Budget.
At a time when they’re grappling with rising costs of inputs, like fertiliser, Labor backflips on its methane pledge.
Labor’s intent to reduce methane emissions by 30 per cent will drive-up the cost of meat at the supermarket.
It’s bad for our farmers and just another added cost to your grocery basket.
Australians will recall that prior to the election, Prime Minister Albanese promised that he would be a leader who wouldn’t run from responsibility.
He promised to lead a government that steps up, does its job, and doesn’t always blame someone else.
For all their moral posturing and all their promises, Labor shows – time and again – that their rhetoric in Opposition never matches their actions in Government.
You are never better off when Labor has its hands on the Budget.
As an Opposition, we will stand against Labor’s broken promises.
We will have a clearly defined, positive and bold plan ahead of the next election to take our country forward.
We will support hard-working Australians.
We will support all Australians.
And we will rebuild a strong economy for your family and for our country.